OREGON GOVERNMENT ETHICS COMMISSION. Training on Oregon Government Ethics Law. 12-1-2011 Oregon State Board of Education. Objectives. Identify when, as a public official, the law restricts some choices decisions or actions you may make.
Oregon Government Ethics Law
Board of Education
“The Legislative Assembly declares that service as a public official is a public trust, and that as one safeguard for that trust, the people require all public officials to comply with the applicable provisions of this chapter.” ORS 244.010 (1)
A “public official” is any person who is serving the State of Oregon or any of its political subdivisions or any other public body, as an elected official, appointed official, employee, agent or otherwise, irrespective of whether the person is compensated for the services.
ORS 244.040(1) Prohibits the use or attempted use of position or office to obtain financial gain that would not otherwise be available, but for the position or office.
The prohibited financial benefit can be either an opportunity for gain…
…or to avoid an expense.
The public official is prohibited from obtaining financial gains for:
■ A relative of the public official
■ A household member of the public official
■A business with which any of them are associated
Be aware of actions that may result in a financial effect to a member of your household, or the household of any of your relatives.
If household members are
economically impacted, it could
create either an economic
benefit or loss to you or one
of your specified relatives, so
that action might cause you to
violate the law.
Other people as defined in 244. 020 (15) (f) (g) and (h)
A “business” is: any corporation, partnership, proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, organization, self-employed individual and any other legal entity operated for economic gain.
note: public bodies not included
A “business” is not: any tax-exempt 501-C non-profit organization, if the public official or a relative of the public official is associated only as a member or board director or holds an unpaid position.
A person is “associated with” a private business if:
the person is a director, officer, owner or employee,
or agent of the business; or if a person owns or has owned more than $1000 worth of stock, equity interest, stock options, or debt interest of a private business in the preceding calendar year.
A person is “associated with” a publicly held corporation if: the person is an officer or director of the publically traded company, or if the person owns or has owned more than $100,000 worth of stock in the preceding calendar year.
“Would I have
if I was not
a public official?
If the answer is
you may be prohibited!
Unless the general public has the same access,
that use is prohibited.
In general, public officials may obtain employment with a private employer or engage in private income producing activity of their own.
Guide for Public Officials, page 16
For two years after a public official ceases holding the position as a public official may not have a direct beneficial financial interest in a public contract when one of the parties to the contract is the official’s former public body if the contract:
ORS 244.040(3) prohibits a public official from directly or indirectly, soliciting or accepting the promise of future employment based on the understanding that the offer is influenced by the public official’s vote, official action or judgment.
Now that we have looked
at some prohibited benefits,
we will review the allowable
financial benefits in ORS
In brief, a public official is met with a conflict of interest when participating in an official action could result in a financial benefit or detriment to the public official, a relative of the public official or a business with which either are associated.
Statutory conflicts of interest have three components:
1. An action, decision, or recommendation made in the
2. A private pecuniary benefit or detriment
3. The public official, the public official’s relatives, or a business associated with the public official or the public official’s relative.
Many of these words have a specific meaning in statute.
Reviewing the definitions of some of these words will help us understand the statute more clearly.
in terms of money.
in terms of money.
The definitions for Conflicts of Interest are the same as the ones for Prohibited Use of Office, including:
■Business you are “associated with”
Remember: public bodies not included
As mentioned before, if
household members of you
or one of your relatives are
economically impacted, it
could create either an
economic benefit or loss
to you or one of your
relatives, so that action
might present you with
a conflict of interest.
Now that we have reviewed the definitions individually, we can see how they relate together in the conflict of interest statutes.
Actual Conflict of Interest
Any action, decision, or recommendation by a public official in their official capacity, the effect of which WOULD be to the private pecuniary gain or detriment of the public official, a relative or household member of the public official, or a business with which any of the above are associated.
If the financial effect of an action is both specific and certain, then that action presents an actual conflict of interest.
Let’s say a public body is going to award a contract.
The company that is awarded the contract will receive a specific financial impact; that is, they will be able to do business according the terms of the contract. The companies that are not selected will also see a specific financial impact; that is, they will lose the opportunity to do business according to the terms of the contract.
Since awarding the contract will definitely cause those results, then participating in awarding the contract will cause both a specific and certain financial impact, and could present an actual conflict of interest to a public official.
PotentialConflict of Interest
Any action, decision, or recommendation by a public official in official capacity, the effect of which COULD be to the private pecuniary gain or detriment of the official, relative, or business of official or relative. ORS 244.020(12)
If the financial effect of an action is unknown, or if the financial effect might happen but might not, so the effect of that action is not certain, then that situation would present only a potential conflict of interest to a public official.
Let’s say a public official has the opportunity to decide whether or not to solicit bids for a contract. His brother works for a company that performs the services described in the contract.
The financial effects of the contract are specific. A company that wins the bid will do business according to the terms of the contract.
However, the effect of opening a bid is uncertain. If a bid is opened, the brother’s company might put in a bid, but they might not. Since the financial effects of this vote are specific but uncertain, they do not present an actual conflict of interest, only a potential conflict of interest.
To summarize, there are several conditions that must be met in order to create a conflict of interest.
1.) The action must be an official action of a public official
2.) That official action either might result in or will result in a private financial benefit or loss
3.) The private financial result must affect one of the parties specified in the statute
Must publicly announce the nature of the conflict of interest on each occasion the conflict arises.
Disclosure does not exempt you from violation.
Must provide written notice to the person who appointed or employed you.
The notice must describe the nature of the conflict of interest.
An announcement needs to be made on each occasion the conflict of interest is met.
Maintain a copy of the notice in your own records.
The supervisor must respond to the written conflict of interest notice by either assigning someone else to that task or by instructing the employee how to take care of the matter. This response should be in writing.
When a public official gives notice of a conflict, the notice mustbe recorded in the official records of the public body.
The Oregon form of government requires an informed public aware of the deliberations and decisions of governing bodies and the information upon which such decisions were made. [ORS 192.620]
-Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual (Jan. 2008)
Attorney General’s Public Records
and Meetings Manual
The Department of Justice - Publications Section1162 Court Street NESalem, OR 97301-4096www.doj.state.or.us/public_records
Available in a free online PDF at: http://www.doj.state.or.us/pdf/public_records_and_meetings_manual.pdf
Executive session is any meeting or part of a meeting of a governing body which is closed to certain persons for deliberation on certain matters.
A governing body may hold a meeting consisting of only an executive session. The notice requirements are the same as those for any other meeting.
Provisions in ORS Chapter 192 allow specific, limited reasons for which a public body may meet in a closed session.
The law allows you to
meet in executive session to….
Consider the employment of public officers, employees and agents IF:
See also ORS 192.660(7)
Note: Cannot discuss salary [OAG-PMM Pg 145]
Note: Cannot discuss salary (OAG-PMM page 145)
Discuss information about, review, or approve programs related to the security of :
■ Electicity ■ Hazardous substances
■ Gas ■ Petroleum products
■ Water ■ Sewage
The (public body) will now meet in executive session for the purpose of ______________ .
The executive session is held pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(_), which allows the (public body) to meet in executive session to ___________ .
For example, if you cite ORS 192.660(2)(i) as the authorization to hold an executive session to evaluate an employee, you cannot discuss disciplining that employee at the same time. You can discipline an employee in executive session, but need to announce the separate authorization of ORS 192.660(2)(b) before you do so.
(And in this case, must give advance notice to employee, and offer the option to hold both events in public session.)
You cannot convene
an executive session to…
The purpose of the “final decision” requirement
is to allow the public to know the result of the
discussions. [ AG Public Meetings Manual, pg 149]
The law provides for certain recourse,
sanctions or penalties when the executive session provisions are violated.
Any person may file a complaint with OGEC. OGEC may investigate and find a violation, and impose any of these penalties:
OGEC administers the executive session provisions. Any member of the public may file a complaint about actions done in executive session for up to four years from the date the action was done.
More than half of the complaints that were investigated in 2011 were complaints about executive sessions.
“Just send me a fax or send me a letter, or give me a call – that would even be better” Lyrics to I’m Alright by JoDee Messina
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